A popular bakery on Chicago's North Side is taking proof of vaccination one step further, requiring all staff and guests to have a booster shot in order to come inside.
Baker Miller has long been requiring vaccinations for its staff and dine-in guests, a move the bakery said "erred on the side of caution even when it meant making financial sacrifices."
But on Monday, the bakery announced booster shots would be added to the criteria for dining inside.
"In this case, we trust the science and we trust our public health leaders when they say the booster works. We don’t believe completely closing dine in is necessary yet but we did consider it," the bakery wrote on Instagram Monday. "We will continue to offer curbside, delivery, walk-up and preorder service for those who don’t feel comfortable inside. We also ask that you mask at the walk up window. We don’t make this decision lightly. We know that many others follow what we do and so we feel pressure to make the right decision. If you have questions as to how we got here- we’d be happy to help as best as possible but it may have to happen after the Christmas rush."
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The eatery said its decision came as the new omicron variant continues to spread across the country.
"Over the past few days we have been doing LOTS of research and talking to pros about the best next steps with omicron," its post read. "It’s still a little early to tell but so far, all signs indicate that the vaccine boosters mostly hold up to the old strains of Covid as well as omicron. It also appears that any breakthrough cases are mild and equivalent to a cold. That said, we have updated our dine-in policy. We’ve always required vaccines and masking but effective immediately all staff and guests are also required to have a booster shot."
The dining change came just as Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she planned on making a "big announcement" surrounding mitigations in the city with COVID cases surging. While details surrounding what exactly her announcement would entail remained unclear, the mayor hinted that vaccine proof for indoor dining could be coming.
"We see what other cities have done with requiring vaccination proof for places of leisure, restaurants, gyms and other places and we've got to this seriously," she told MSNBC in an interview Monday night. "We went from 300 cases in a downward slope just three weeks ago. Now we’re seeing a thousand cases and we are seeing an increase of deaths in our city. So now is the time to act and we will."
City health officials had been saying for weeks that vaccine proof may soon be required for certain indoor activities and public spaces.
"Might we begin requiring proof of vaccination for more activities and public spaces? Yes, I think we might," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said earlier this month. "I certainly am more interested in that than I am in needing to do some of the major shut downs."
Several restaurants and venues have already required proof of vaccination or negative tests to enter regardless of citywide rules, but Baker Miller recognizes it is among the first to require boosters.
"We've been requiring vaccines for months so we wish the city had acted sooner but we understand it's up to us as individuals to study and make decisions that are best for our own needs," owner Dave Miller told NBC 5 in an email. "We were a leader in this space just because we felt it important to act quickly before we enter one of our busiest weeks of the year. We and our team want to have Christmas with our family without exposing them to danger."
The restaurant noted things might change depending on what the city announces Tuesday.
"We're requiring boosters for dine in because it's the most broad standard we can think of to protect our team's unvaccinated children," Miller told NBC 5. "We may extend that to included a recent COVID test once we get standards for what that looks like. However, we believe everyone should have access to food so we still have a walk up window, delivery and preordering available for customers through our website."